Is alcoholism a disease or is it a choice that you make? This has been the debate for many years with both sides providing documented research to support their argument.
Those who stand on the side of “choice” believe that alcohol users can will themselves to stop by making better choices for short and long-term goals. On the other hand, supporters of the disease model suggest that an individual cannot cease their alcohol use anymore than they can will themselves to stop having diabetes.
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American Medical Association
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, alcoholism is described as: “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psycho-social, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by imparted control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.” (1992)
A Mental Illness
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) classified alcoholism as a substance abuse disorder, stating that before the physical part of the disease presents, there are mental, as well as emotional and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms include a loss of control and the inability to stop drinking even as dire consequences are experienced.
A Physical Disease
Alcoholism is a progressive physical disease. Indications of intoxication may include the following
- Impaired reflexes and balance issues
- Slurred speech
- Stomach pain
- Black outs/loss of consciousness
Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual reaches a point of intoxication that may result in depressed breathing. It is also possible for an individual to asphyxiate from vomiting due to intoxication.
The long-term physical effects of alcoholism can produce a condition known as Ascites which is when the abdominal cavity fills with fluid as a result of liver disease or failure. Other physical effects include damage to the nervous system, as well as heart and brain damage.
Indications of Abuse
Signs that an individual may be an alcoholic include:
- Neglecting family and work/school responsibilities
- Display of anger which may result in physical violence, as well as other emotional outbursts
- Risky behavior that may result in legal or financial repercussions
- Inability to control the amount they drink
Untreated, an individual struggling with alcohol abuse may progress to addiction. Depending on the severity of their use, quitting on their own may be very difficult. Suddenly stopping consumption can result in alcohol withdrawal. An individual suffering from withdrawal symptoms may experience:
- Uncontrollable shakes/tremors
- Extreme anxiety/agitation
Long-term alcohol abuse/addiction can result in serious health consequences without the help of a medical detox facility and/or rehab treatment program.
Regardless of which side of the argument: choice or disease, an individual stands on, there are physical attributes involved and it is important, even critical to an individual’s health and well-being that they seek the appropriate help.
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and ready to get your life back, Gallus Detox Centers can help. Our IV therapy medical detox is the safest and most comfortable method for detoxing from alcohol and drugs. We will also help you plan for your continued recovery whether entering a rehab facility, a 12-step program, a non-12 step program or additional counseling. Call Gallus Medical Detox Centers today at We will also help you plan for your continued recovery whether entering a rehab facility, a 12-step program, a non-12 step program or additional counseling. Call 888-228-9114, to see if our specialized treatment is right for you.